| Illegal settlements of the cattle-rearing slum-dwellers at Sandhakuda Slum Colony in Paradip. Telegraph picture |
Paradip, Feb. 9: With the authorities deciding to evict milkmen from the slum clusters of the town for Indian Oil Corporation’s Paradip-Haldia pipeline project, the slum-dwellers have started protesting in demand of proper rehabilitation before eviction.
“We are ready to leave the place where we lived for many decades. But we need authorities to give us proper rehabilitation first,” say the protesting milkmen from Sandhakuda Slum Colony.
With the local milk producers’ association threatening to stage protest, residents here may feel a pinch of milk scarcity in the coming days.
“Several milkmen have unlawfully settled in the colony. Their settlement was on encroached government land. Hence, they are being evicted under the Orissa Prevention of Land Encroachment Act,” said additional district magistrate, Saroj Kanta Choudhury.
“We have served eviction notice on them. As the Paradip-Haldia pipeline would pass through the said encroached settlement, their eviction was necessitated,” he added.
On the other hand, chief of Paradip Milk Producers’ Association, Anadi Charan Pradhan, said: “Over 200 families have been living in Sandhakuda for the last four decades. It’s inhuman to drive them out without rehabilitating them.”
These poor families are willing to vacate the place provided the government resettlea them somewhere, he said.
Nearly 40 per cent of the total milk requirement of the port town is met by the cattle rearing families of the Sandhakuda Slum Colony.
The milkmen would resort to peaceful agitation to press forth their demand for rehabilitation. “Unless the authorities announce rehabilitation scheme, milkmen would be forced to stop milk supply to the residents of the port town for indefinite period,” threatened the chief of the milk producers’ association.
“As per the Supreme Court’s directions, encroachers have no right, whatsoever, to demand rehabilitation. As the milkmen are encroachers, they have no claim for rehabilitation. First of all, they have to vacate the land, and then only we may allow them to temporarily settle somewhere,” said the additional district magistrate.
“The cowsheds within the periphery of the town are a source of public nuisance. These places have also become breeding ground of mosquitoes. Such unauthorised settlements should be evicted. However, the displaced families should be resettled on humanitarian ground, but preferably at a place which is out of the municipality jurisdictions,” said Dipti Prakash Pattnaik, a local resident.